Microsoft is working on a real-time Skype translation tool that could go a long way toward eliminating language barriers once and for all, and you can preview it right now. Skype announced on Monday that people who signed up for its Skype Translator preview program can start using it right now on any devices they own that run on Windows 8.1. This is just a preview, of course so we shouldn’t expect it to work perfectly just yet as Microsoft and Skype are still ironing out some bugs.
An upcoming program from Microsoft hopes to break down language barriers by offering automated voice translations through its Skype communication service. Similar to the universal translators used in Star Trek and other science fiction, Skype Translator allows people who speak different languages to communicate by voice in real-time, with the help of speech recognition and intelligent translation technology. Just say something into the mic and Skype will play back an audio translation of your message to your conversation partner, along with an on-screen transcript, as demonstrated in the video below. Skype Translator will be available in preview form later this month to select Windows 8.1 users who sign up on the program’s website. It is invite-only for now. The program launches with English and Spanish as the only two spoken languages, and over 40 instant messaging languages.